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As children we love to dream. We set no limits for ourselves nor our dreams. Our imagination just runs wild. The skies (and even beyond) are the limit. There are those of us who dreamt of being an astronaut; a ballerina; a doctor; the president of the United States; a writer and even a princess. I dreamt of being Elizabeth Taylor married to Paul Newman in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” but that’s another story. However, when we become adults we seem to be afraid to dream. Our mind is filled with what ifs. What if I fail? What if I succeed? We over think everything. I can’t do that. I’m too old. I’m too young. I don’t look the part. I don’t have enough education. We can go on and on with excuses of why we shouldn’t…why we couldn’t. But it usually comes down to one thing….self-doubt! Self-doubt can get us in and out of circumstances we have no business being in. Like staying with the wrong person for way too long. Or settling for a job instead of applying for a better position. Self-doubt can stop us from being the person we were meant to be and block our path to a more fulfilling life. We adults have to find a way to get back to the self-assuredness we had as children. To be able to dream and then say loud, proud and with conviction “this is who I am!” We can’t let self-doubt get in the way of being who we are meant to be. A few months ago while on a family vacation we celebrated my granddaughter’s fifth birthday. She had been waiting for that day for months. Actually since her 4th birthday. Her parents and I were ready to do whatever we could to make her birthday a special day. We had so many plans we knew she would love. But as we were about to leave the hotel room it became clear what was the most important thing on her mind for that day when she loudly and proudly declared “I’m the line leader!” In her nursery school it is the practice that whoever is celebrating their birthday is automatically the line leader of the class for that day. Apparently being the line leader is something VERY special to a child. When it is time for the class to line up for a particular activity the birthday boy or girl stands in front of the line and the students from her class room must follow her. At lunchtime she leads them to the lunch room; at recess time she leads them to the play yard; at snack time she leads them to the snack table, and at reading time she leads them to the reading circle. So when it was her birthday it didn’t matter to my granddaughter that we kept her out of school so she could see Mickey Mouse. It didn’t matter to her that she could go on every ride she could stomach. It didn’t matter that we were going to the beach so she could catch the waves with her mom and dad. It didn’t matter that we were going to take her to a hibachi restaurant for dinner where she would be mesmerized by the chef doing his tricks and that the entire restaurant would sing happy birthday to her. It didn’t matter that her Uncle and Aunt bought her big birthday balloons and a big gigantic cake. All that was well and good but what mattered foremost to my granddaughter was that today on her birthday she was the line leader and she made sure that everyone knew it. Anytime any of us adults would forget and somehow end up in front of the line she would run up front and again declare “I’m the line leader!” My granddaughter knew her place; she knew her role. She was not afraid to own what was meant for her. My granddaughter saw herself as the leader long before her birthday came around. So when her birthday actually arrived she was ready, willing and able to be the leader she saw herself to be. OK. I see you shaking your head and thinking, Sylvia, that’s nice but dreaming is not for me. It isn’t? So you say: “I’m too old to make my dreams a reality” If you haven’t heard of Ernestine Shepard you should. She is a woman who through various circumstances began weight training in her 50’s. She recently turned 80 years old and is said to be the oldest living professional bodybuilder. She gets up at 2:30AM to run 10 miles every day and that’s only the beginning of her active day. I urge you to Google her. She is very inspiring. “I’m too young to make my dreams a reality” There are two young brothers. (I apologize. Their names elude me at the moment.) They were about 8 and 9 years old when they wrote a children’s book about helping others and being good stewards of the earth. And on the flip side of the book it showed children how they can create their own books to sell and raise money for charity. These boys made hundreds of thousands of dollars that were donated to various charities around the world. “I don’t look the part to make my dream a reality” May I remind you that early in Oprah Winfrey’s career as a newscaster the producers made her cut her hair and tried to make her make other changes so that she could “look the part.” She got upset; got over it and then decided to go after her own dreams. And we all know how well that worked out for her. “I’m a single mom with no money and deep in debt” The movie “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence was based on a true story about Joy Mangano. She was a single mom; heavily in debt (house about to be foreclosed upon) who became a self-made millionaire by building a company where she patent other people’s ideas. She started by inventing the “miracle mop.” A mop! “I don’t have the right education to make my dreams a reality” Reminder! Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple and your IPhone dropped out of college. (Not that I recommend that young people.) Need I say more? We can come up with a million and one excuses as to why we cannot pursue our dreams. But we can usually find people who had the same problems and were still able to make their dreams come true despite (or because of) their adversities. Yes, it was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and grace. But I believe that we can do whatever we put our mind to. No matter what the dream. Big or small…believe in your dream…believe in yourself. Your dreams are only limited by your imagination. They may not all come true but you’ll never know unless you try. Really try. If you have a vision. A yearning in your heart. An ache in the pit of your stomach. A still small voice that speaks to you; listen to it. Do not put a limit on yourself. Do not put a limit on your dreams. Where you are today does not mean that is where you have to stay. Find the child within you. The dreamer. The one who is so excited about their dreams. And shout loud and proud “I’m the Line Leader!”

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